Those who have seen the stop-motion animated film Coraline know what it is to gaze upon the face of terror: It’s seeing a version of your parents treating you the way you’ve always wanted, only to have them gently suggest that you sew buttons into your eyes and give them your soul for eternity.
The 2009 film was directed by Nightmare Before Christmas helmer Henry Selick and based on Neil Gaiman’s chilling young adult novel about a girl who finds a magical passageway in her new home that leads to another world where everything is much better…until it’s the scariest place possible. The gorgeous stop-motion animation was done by Laika, some of the bravest artists in Hollywood who broke their backs to give us nuanced, tangible amusements like ParaNorman and Kubo and the Two Strings.
Coraline, however, is pure nightmare fertilizer. It offers jumping mice that are actually sand-filled rats, taffy-made doppelgangers of screaming actresses, and the final boss of Hell, the Other Mother, who grows into a spider that would make Pennywise wince after our heroine refuses to be her daughter.
Earlier this summer, we reported that Coraline was returning to theaters on Aug. 14 and 15, complete with some extra behind-the-scenes footage of presumably how they took five months to move Coraline’s arm slightly. These Laika people — they have the patience of saints.
According to Collider, the film was a hit over its short re-release window. The movie earned $7.2 million at the box office during August, after adding additional screenings on Aug. 28 and 29 due to popular demand for seeing a young boy’s mouth sewn into a rictus grin that haunts us when we shut our eyes.
The film’s August earnings even beat out the most recent re-release of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, which you don’t even have to watch through your fingers (unless you hate Ewoks).
All ribbing aside, we’re very happy that Coraline has become a new classic in the kids’ entertainment and horror spaces. Let’s hope it’s a gateway film for little genre fans to discover other creepy kids movies like The Witches, Return to Oz, and Hellraiser Jr., which isn’t real but sounds surprisingly workable.